Edlington torture boys case 'preventable'
Updated on 22 January 2010
A serious case review launched by Doncaster Safeguarding Children Board after two young brothers tortured two other boys has found the abuse was "preventable".
At a press conference, interim director of social services Nick Jarman said: "I would like to start by offering an unqualified apology on behalf of Doncaster Council for the admitted failings which led to this terrible incident.
"In particular, I would like to apologise to the victims of this case and their families and offer my apologies also to the residents of Doncaster."
He also said that he came to the South Yorkshire town in April last year and found "an organisation which was totally broken".
Asked if he thought that was "astonishing", he said: "I don't think it's astonishing at all.
"The serious case review has been published.
"That now enables us to take this forward. Where disciplinary action needs to be taken, it will be taken and it will be taken firmly."
He confirmed that only one person had faced disciplinary action so far as a result of this case.
Mr Jarman was speaking at a press conference in Doncaster which included a range of agencies involved with the two brothers.
Children's Secretary Ed Balls said: "This is a terrible, evil act that happened.
"It's hard to comprehend how children could do such terrible things to other innocent childen. These are children who have been deeply damaged by years of abuse.
"What we've now got to do is make sure that in custody they get support to try and turn things around for them, and that we also learn lessons in Doncaster so that in future we don't have a repeat of such a terrible, unusual and horrific case."
The serious case review, carried out by the board, concluded that: "Although the extent and severity of the assault could not have been predicted, the perpetrators had shown an escalating pattern of violence against other children and adults over a period of several months.
"There were opportunities to intervene more effectively right up to the week before the assault."
During the trial it was revealed that the two attackers were well-known troublemakers and that social services were heavily involved in their lives. The review includes 18 areas for improvement to safeguard children.
Roger Thomson, director of the Doncaster Safeguarding Children Board, said: "The findings of the report follow what has undoubtedly been an exceptionally shocking crime committed on two innocent young boys.
"On behalf of the board, I would like to express that our thoughts are with them and their families as they continue with their recovery."
The report praises the exceptional commitment of some professionals, but cites a lack of leadership and effective multi-agency working as contributing to the incident.
It is the latest serious case review centred around Doncaster, where seven children have died since 2004, despite being on the at-risk register.
At the time of the attack the brothers were meant to be at the local police station being questioned about a violent assault on another boy a week earlier. But they had gone missing from their foster home.
They were placed into foster care only three weeks before the attack, because their mother said that she could not cope with her seven children.
The report said there the family had been know to social services for 14 years.
The brothers, aged 10 and 11 at the time, attacked their victims in Edlington, South Yorkshire, last April, using broken glass, bricks and sticks.